Ayasofya Mosque Visit in 2021: from Museum to Mosque—Foggy vs Sunny Day

These events happened on the 5th and 21st of November 2021. Jonas and I visited the Ayasofya (aka Hagia Sophia) on a rather spontaneous basis. This was my second visit to the Ayasofya and my first visit since it became a mosque in July 2020. Click here to read about my Istanbul and Hagia Sophia experiences from March/April 2013. There’s also a breakdown of Hagia Sophia as a ‘wonder’ in the videogame Age of Empires II down below. A Change of Plans We arrived at the İDO pier at the indicated time of 9:30. During the downhill walk from ourContinue reading

Hitchhiking Greece: The Adventurous Side of Losing a Phone

Our Phone is Gone We wave at the car until he drives out of our sight, looking at each other and smiling, grateful for this nice ride. We are enjoying the Greek climate somewhere out in nowhere. I see him touching his pockets nervously. “Flow…do you have it?” “I’ve got my wallet, yes, but… fuck! Where is my phone?” We check everywhere in our backpacks, our jackets, our pants, our bags and again in our backpacks, our jackets, our pants and our bags… but nothing. I ring Flow’s phone obsessively, without any answer. “It must have fallen somewhere under theContinue reading

How to Get a Turkish SIM Card (In the Small and Non-Touristic Towns of Turkey)

We bought our Turkish SIM cards on Monday the 25th of October, one day after arriving in Karasu. Karasu is a port town on the Black Sea coast and we’d arrived by ferry. It’s relatively small and getting a Turkish SIM card wasn’t straightforward. This post is supposed to help people who are also arriving in Turkey by land or sea and in a smaller town away from places geared toward foreigners. Our Experience Buying a Turkish SIM Card in Karasu FAQ Turkish SIM Card + Internet Freedom in Turkey Which provider should I choose? There are three telecom providersContinue reading

Apps in Ukraine: 10 Apps to Download Before Your Trip

We spent 89 days in Ukraine in 2021. These are the apps that proved most useful in Ukraine and helped us navigate the country. Click here to read which and how to get a SIM card in Ukraine. 1. Google Translate with Downloaded Ukrainian + Russian This is essential if you don’t speak or read either of these languages. It starts with using the camera function to translate menu items, followed by typing in something and then letting the translator robot voice speak for you, and lastly using the conversation function to let either party speak their preferred language. IContinue reading

Odesa Cable Car: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Experience a Bit of Horror” (Ukraine)

When joining a beer sampling in Kharkiv with Eugene and his friends, we mentioned we’re also going to Odesa during our trip through Ukraine. He opened his phone to show photos from beautiful spots in Odesa, such as the swamp tram (video link) that goes to Khadzhibey Estuary. We’d shared our experiences in the Kharkiv cable car with him. We thought it was hilariously unsafe for something that’s painted in primary colors. He then mentioned there’s another such cable car in Odesa, and oh boy, that one hasn’t seen a renovation. Eugene showed some pictures from inside the cable carContinue reading

Hitchhiking from Heniches’k to Kherson: Familiar Road, New Surface

Things described in this piece happened on Tuesday the 5th of October, 2021. Jonas and I hitchhiked from Heniches’k at the Sea of Azov to Kherson. Kherson is the capital of Kherson Oblast, which hosts both towns. The city of Kherson is located on the Dnieper River close to its mouth in the Black Sea.  Preparations to Hitchhike to Kherson After five days in Heniches’k (Генічеськ), it was time to leave. We’d booked an apartment that looked rather central in Kherson (Херсон) via Airbnb. But the day before departure, we figured it wasn’t actually very central. There was aContinue reading

Arabat Spit: A Day Trip to Ukrainian-Controlled Crimea with Hot Spring + Pink Lake

These events happened on October 3rd, 2021. Our Booking host in Heniches’k named Yuri offered to do a day trip with us down the Arabat Spit to visit some hot springs and a pink lake. This eventually turned into a little adventure with even more spontaneous stops and detours along the way. The Arabat Spit is geographically part of the Crimean Peninsula, but administratively it’s Kherson Oblast. Russia didn’t annex this part of Crimea back in 2014. Ukrainian-Controlled Crimea: Is it Safe? Yes. Since 2014 there has been nothing really going on on the Arabat Spit. One should of courseContinue reading

Biryuchiy to Heniches’k: A Hitchhiking Detour to the Watermelon State (Ukraine)

After seven days on Biryuchiy Island (actually a peninsula), we left for Heniches’k. Both of these towns are in Kherson Oblast, but to get from one to the other, one must travel through Zaporizhzhia Oblast around the Utlyutsky estuary. The whole route is quite a detour as you can see on the map below. This happened on Thursday the 30th of September, 2021. Preparations to Travel to Heniches’k Back in Mariupol, I made hitchhiking signs for the rest of the trip through Ukraine. I made one for Melitopol and Kyrylivka, Heniches’k, and Kherson and Odesa. That proved to be smart becauseContinue reading

Kharkiv Cable Car: A Soviet Ride in Primary Colors

We rode the Kharkiv cable car on Wednesday, the 25th of August, 2021. I guess technically, it’s a gondola lift or an aerial tramway or something like that (Spanish: teleférico) and I’ve seen the Kharkiv one referred to even as a ‘zip line‘ (which it is absolutely not), I’m gonna keep calling it a cable car because it feels right. Learning About the Existence of a Cable Car in Kharkiv My friend Nina from Roaming Pencil hails from Kharkiv. When I told her we were going to her old city, she mentioned a cable car as one of the thingsContinue reading